Elderly couple hog-tied during fatal home invasion in Brooklyn
A home invasion in Brooklyn turned deadly on Wednesday — with a 91-year-old man dying in front of his 100-year-old wife after being hog-tied by four goons, cops said. The elderly couple, identified by relatives as Waldiman and Ethlin Thompson, had been sitting inside of their Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone when the crooks somehow snuck inside and set upon them around 3:30 p.m., according to police.
The suspects targeted Ethlin Thompson first — creeping up behind her, throwing a blanket over her head and tying her up with a cord — before doing the same to her husband.
They then rummaged through the apartment, though cops are uncertain if anything was actually taken.
Ethlin somehow managed to free herself and alert authorities, but Waldiman was unable to do so. He was found unresponsive inside their home and rushed to Interfaith Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
A source told The Post that police believe he died sometime during the crime. It’s unclear how, though. One neighbor, who was outside at the time of the incident, told The Post he saw Ethlin moments after she sprung free. “I come walking up the block from work and she came running out the house screaming,” recalled Paul Paterson, 55. “This was the first time I ever saw her screaming. She said, ‘They robbed me and my husband and tied us up, they came in from the back. My husband laying there and might be dead.’ I said I can’t go in there because it would be a crime scene.” Paterson remembered seeing rope burns on the Ethlin’s legs while speaking with her.
“She used my phone to call the police,” he said, describing her and her husband as loving people. “They were like a grandmother and grandfather to me,” Paterson explained. “Everyone on this block knew them and loved them.” Residents reported seeing at least two men walking up and down the block prior to the home invasion, but it’s unclear if they are suspects. The individuals were said to have been caught on surveillance tape. One of the men appeared to be carrying a small box of some kind, while the other was clutching a backpack.
“There was people watching the block earlier — two dudes,” said one person, who spoke to detectives and refused to be identified. Police are trying to determine exactly how the suspects managed to make it inside the Thompsons’ home on Wednesday after finding no evidence of a break-in, sources said.
Investigators are also looking into the possibility that the thugs knew their victims. Sources said the home invasion didn’t appear to be a random act. A nephew, who was at the Thompson residence just 30 minutes before the crime, was being questioned by cops on Wednesday evening — but authorities don’t believe he’s a suspect. Sources said the Thompsons are known to keep large amounts of money inside their home. Neighbors told The Post that Ethlin was a retired nurse who previously worked with the mentally challenged. She and Waldiman immigrated to New York from Jamaica when they were younger.
“She ran a home for people with advanced mental [handicaps] out of her house in the 80’s,” said Tiffany Baptiste, a longtime neighbor. “She used to take care of my great grandmother.”
Paula Samaroo added, “They’re very nice people that I’ve known for so many years…It’s scary.” Waldiman’s niece, Karlene Rose, said Wednesday night that she last saw her uncle on Sunday, when he came to visit her critically ill mother. “[It] breaks my heart,” she said of his death, fighting back tears.
“I was in my house cooking my dinner and my daughter came upstairs and asked if my uncle lives in Bedford Stuyvesant, and she said, ‘Look, look, look this is the house…’ I said, ‘Oh, my God.’” Rose added, “Waldiman Thompson doesn’t deserve to die like this…This doesn’t make sense to me.”